This is it. This is the biggest game of the season (so far) for the Michigan State Spartans. Michigan State will head to Columbus to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes and it is essentially the Big Ten East title game.
There are all kinds of crazy scenarios that still exist in the conference, but if the Spartans win on Saturday, and then win at least one of the final two games following this weekend, they’ll be heading to Indianapolis for a shot at the Big Ten championship. A win for Ohio State likely means the same fate for the Buckeyes.
Enough chitchat. It’s preview time.
Tale of the Tape:
Record — 7-2, (5-1 Big Ten)
Offense — 402.6 total yards per game (5th in Big Ten), 245.8 passing yards per game, 156.8 rushing yards per game, 24.1 points per game
Defense — 303.7 yards allowed per game (3rd in Big Ten), 216.7 passing yards allowed per game, 87 rushing yards allowed per game, 20.1 points allowed per game
Record — 7-2 (5-1 Big Ten)
Offense — 549 total yards per game (1st in Big Ten), 313.7 passing yards per game, 235.3 rushing yards per game, 43.8 points per game
Defense — 323 yards allowed per game (4th in Big Ten), 200.7 passing yards allowed per game, 122.3 rushing yards allowed per game, 22.3 points allowed per game
Quick takeaways: Ohio State is probably the most complete team on the Spartans’ schedule. Led by J.T. Barrett, the Buckeyes’ offense ranks in the top two of the Big Ten in each of the above categories, as well as fourth in total defense. Plus, the Buckeyes were embarrassed by Iowa last weekend and are good and pissed off at this point. MSU’s defense has given up a significant amount of yardage through the air the past two weeks, but the run defense has remained stout. On the other side of that, Brian Lewerke and the MSU passing offense has exploded the past two games. This is going to be a tough challenge, but if MSU can force Ohio State to be one dimensional and continue to gain big yardage through the air, the Spartans will have a chance for the upset.
All-time record: Ohio State leads 30-15
Last Spartans win: Nov. 21, 2015 (17-14)
Last Buckeyes win: Nov. 19, 2016 (17-16)
Biggest Spartans win: 32-7 (1965)
Biggest Buckeyes win: 42-0 (1979)
Current Streak: Ohio State with a one-game winning streak
Longest winning streak: Ohio State with eight wins from 1975-1984
Quick takeaways: The Buckeyes have the historic advantage, but this has been an extremely competitive series as of late. Michigan State has more wins (three) over Ohio State in the past six seasons than any other team in that span. Four of those six meetings were decided by three points or less. Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer is 3-2 against the Spartans. The only other team to beat him twice during his tenure at Ohio State is Clemson. The road teams have done well recently. Excluding neutral site games, the away team has won six games in a row, including two straight wins in Columbus by MSU. All-time, Ohio State holds an 10-8 advantage in games played in November and a 14-9 advantage in games in Columbus.
Michigan State: Sparty shocked the Penn State Nittany Lions following a three-hour-plus rain delay. The Spartans weren’t expected to win that game, but they pulled it off via a time-expiring field goal by Matt Coghlin. I’ve heard all of the grumblings both online and face-to-face of why MSU won: the weather, the delay, etc. But those who have said that fail to realize Michigan State had to deal with the exact same thing. There was no advantage whatsoever. The defense shut down Saquon Barkley and the Michigan State receivers, particularly Felton Davis III and Hunter Rison made clutch catches. The Spartans beat a No. 7 overall Penn State team to keep their Big Ten title hopes alive and it was MSU’s most impressive win so far this season.
Ohio State: What happened to the Buckeyes last week? I’m not sure if it was poor preparation, overlooking Iowa, jet lag or a mixture of all of the above, but the 21-point favorite Ohio State Buckeyes were dismantled 55-24 by the Hawkeyes. Iowa came out fired up with all kinds of energy and just wanted it more. Iowa quarterback Nathan Stanley picked Ohio State’s secondary apart for five touchdown passes and Akrum Wadley ran for 118 yards, averaging nearly six yards per tote. In terms of total yardage, Iowa out-gained Ohio State 487 to 371. Unfortunately, that Buckeye team from last week won’t be making a repeat performance — Meyer would never allow it.
Brian Lewerke: 133.4 QB rating, 2,207 passing yards, 61 percent completion rate, 16 TDs, five INTs, 368 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns
LJ Scott: 127 rushes, 554 yards, 4.4 yards per carry, five TDs, 15 catches for 92 yards and one receiving TD
Felton Davis III: 45 catches, 586 yards, 13 yards per catch, eight TDs
Joe Bachie: 77 tackles, 6.5 tackle for loss, two sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, one pass defended
David Dowell: 33 tackles, four interceptions, four pass defended, two fumble recoveries
J.T. Barrett: 168.1 QB rating, 2,374 passing yards, 67.5 percent completion rate, 28 TDs, five INTs, 517 rushing yards, five rushing touchdowns
J.K. Dobbins: 119 rushes, 914 yards, 7.7 yards per carry, five TDs, 13 catches for 91 yards
K.J. Hill: 43 catches, 417 yards, 9.7 yards per catch, three TDs
Jordan Fuller: 52 tackles, two tackle for loss, two sacks, one INT, three passes defended
Nick Bosa: 21 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, one fumble recovery
Time: Noon EST
TV Channel: Fox
Location: Ohio Stadium, Columbus
Weather expectations: 35 degrees, party cloudy, winds 5 MPH blowing east/southeast
Odds: Ohio State -17
Rival blog: Land-Grant Holy Land
I think this game will be a lot closer than the 17-point spread predicts. The recent games in this series have been close and low-scoring. I would expect this to continue. It looks like there will be dry conditions, but it is expected to be quite cold. The Ohio State offense is amongst the top in the nation, capable of hitting home runs at any moment, while the Michigan State defense is amongst the top units in the country on that side of the ball.
Michigan State ranks No. 3 in the NCAA in rushing yards allowed per game. Ohio State has a dynamic rushing attack with J.K. Dobbins, Mike Weber and dual threat J.T. Barrett. The Spartans have to shut down the run and make Barrett beat them with his arm. Of course, Barrett is very capable of doing so, but you can’t allow him to beat you in both facets. Dobbins averages a ridiculous 7.7 yards per carry. Frankly, this game will be about will — who is going to rise up to the challenge?
This one is for all the marbles. I have a strange gut-feeling, nothing more, that Michigan State will pull this one off. Go Green!
Can the Spartans take down the 17-point favorite Buckeyes? Let us know.
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